UK Export Finance (UKEF) have announced significant enhancements to support small UK businesses in international markets at its annual conference. The agency is introducing more flexible, fast-track financing options, making it easier for UK firms to engage in global trade.
UKEF has expanded its ‘auto-inclusion’ scheme, which provides expedited access to trade finance products like the General Export Facility. This expansion means that small businesses can now access government-backed credit more quickly, without manual intervention from UKEF.
The maximum support under auto-inclusion has doubled from £5 million to £10 million, enabling UK exporters to obtain more support through a simple request via participating banks. This is particularly significant considering that small businesses have already unlocked over £280 million in financing through the scheme since its inception in 2021.
Additionally, the maximum tenor for loans under the General Export Facility has been increased from two to five years. This change offers businesses more flexible repayment terms, addressing a crucial need for longer-term financial planning, the UKEF said in a press release. UKEF also announced its first-ever ‘Invest-to-Export’ loan guarantee. This guarantee has secured a major overseas investment in North-East England, promising to support over 2,000 jobs.
Highlighting its focus on expanding global trade relationships, UKEF, in partnership with HSBC India, is paving the way for UK exporters to enter the Indian market, one of the UK’s closest trading partners. Approximately 7,500 SMEs from the UK currently export to India.
A new agreement, encapsulated in a Letter of Intent between UKEF and HSBC India, aims to establish a financing programme under UKEF’s Standard Buyer Loan Guarantee (SBLG) programme. This programme is set to unlock up to £100 million in potential loans, allowing Indian buyers to purchase UK goods.
Tim Reid, CEO at UK Export Finance, said: “We’re proud to celebrate another successful year of supporting UK businesses. In speaking with our customers, and especially with small businesses, it’s clear that ease of accessing finance and flexibility in repayment terms make a big difference for firms wanting to export.
“We’re confident that our announcements will unlock even more deals for UK firms looking to sell to the world, whether they’re exporting for the first time or looking for the latest in a long line of export successes.”